Tuesday, 27 January 2015

MIPIM - The True Survival Guide

James While - Account Director

Turn the clock back only a few years and stories of excess and indulgence on the French Riviera are stuff that would make some rugby tours look like a tea party.

As with all these things however, many, not all, of these fables were apocryphal; handed down from generation to generation of developer and embellished each successive year with another jewel of dubious veracity.

2009 was a watershed for many of us in our behemoth industry. Crashing stocks, bank uncertainty and the evaporation of liquidity conspired to turn the thriving MIPIM legend into a beachfront as bare as an icy Blackpool in January.

However, as with all of the best slimming regimes, MIPIM emerged the other side, leaner, fitter for purpose and hungry for action.

Focus is the key word; one grain of wisdom replacing a myriad of excess, like rice versus confetti, and, if you’re taking the trip down, embrace that focus. Our advice is be prepared, concise, purposeful and know why you’re there.

The biggest pitfalls are gametes of meaningless appointments, fertilised with a good degree of Apprentice-inspired irrelevant sales-speak; language that would have you fired by Lord Sugar before Nick Hewar could even frown.

So, when faced with that chance to pitch your elevator (pun intended) look at it from the client side; think about what they NEED, the first, second and last principle of any form of selling.

Here’s Temple’s view on how to approach this; 

1. Tell your client why what you do works.

Know your product and portfolio; show examples and schemes that provided clever solutions to difficult development problems. And tell them how you worked it out and what the benefit was. They want to know how you think first and then what your schemes look like afterwards. How you think is what makes you different from other consultants. Your projects are the result of someone else’s brief.

2. Don’t tell them you do everything.

Please don’t tell them you’re a Masterplanner when all you have in your portfolio of built projects is residential developments. You might have the skills, but they will be very unlikely to hire you to masterplan a 20-acre site if you can’t show them a project you have already done. Be honest. Pitch to work on a job you can show you can do. Get to know your client and grow your work that way.

3. Show  good pictures and tell a story!

Don’t show plans or black and white elevations. If it’s all you've got, then you should have invested in some decent renders or CGIs. Your clients are only human; seduce them by beautiful pictures that show benefit - both esoteric and commercial; if you’re having a discussion about technical detail and it would help to pore over a plan, bring one as a backup. Even worse are hugely detailed slides, mostly about sustainability systems showing tree, sun and cloud symbols, arrows, flow charts and statistics. Impenetrable, boring and something best left to the detailers.

4. Talk about people.

Architecture and property development is only about one thing. People. How are they going to live, work and play in the schemes we design. How are places going to be economically and socially sustainable for the people who live in them? What will they enjoy about what we design? Tell your client about the people who are going to be their customers. Without people there is no need for property.

5. Do your research before you come.

Your clients are specialist, mixed-use regeneration developers. It says so on their website, right at the top. They won’t be interested in resi conversions, sheds, hospitals or country houses. So don’t waste your time either showing those things or going to see them if that’s what you specialize in. You would spend your time so much more profitably with another developer who does what you do.

Having said all of the above, MIPIM is a broad church; people are there to meet, and forging relationships through the mutual pain of sandblasted  eyes and throbbing feet produces bonds that are durable.

But don’t expect commercial miracles simply by just turning up; this is about hard work and seeding capital for relationships; fertilise those seeds and cultivate the roots you put down and your following year could be something very special indeed.

Temple are heading to this year's MIPIM, find more information here. If you're interested in booking a meeting with our team, please contact; marketing@templegroup.co.uk. 

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